Anderson Pushes Braves Past Marlins in Pitching Duel

Braves Marlins

Atlanta Braves 2, Miami Marlins 0

NLDS Game Two 

In a game that was all about the men on the mound, the Atlanta Braves edged out a victory in Game Two of the NLDS over the Miami Marlins.

Held within the confines of Minute Maid Park in Houston, Atlanta’s Ian Anderson kept the surging Marlins offense at bay to the tune of just three hits and one walk. Meanwhile, the National League’s second-best home run team in the regular season (98) blasted two more long balls to aid in the win. Atlanta’s offense also posted four hits en route to their 18th postseason victory in franchise history.

Anderson Highlights Pitching Duel

Coming into the game, it was an exciting pitching duel on tap between Anderson and Miami’s Pablo Lopez. Anderson had already posted nine postseason strikeouts. Lopez, meanwhile, entered as the only pitcher to record wins in each of his final three regular-season outings. Both pitchers pitched well, with Lopez striking out seven through five innings, but it was Anderson’s eight strikeout performance that held the edge. The outing for Anderson meant 17 total postseason strikeouts for the New York native — putting him in rarified air. Anderson became one of just two pitchers in league history to put up five-plus scoreless innings with at least eight strikeouts in each of his first two career postseason appearances.

With the help of a four-man bullpen performance, Anderson was able to blank Miami in postseason play. That’s something that’s happened just three times before in Marlins postseason history. It happened in a slightly different fashion from what fans were used to seeing during the regular season. It wasn’t a complicated changeup, but it was effective. The 22-year old increased his fastball usage (46.9 percent to 52.1 percent) with a slight uptake in changeup usage (30.8 percent to 31.9 percent). He also laid off his curveball usage (20.8 percent to 13.8 percent).

For Lopez, his performance was impressive and worthy of a win. The unfortunate reality was that two Atlanta home runs (second and fourth innings) resulted in enough offense to win. It was an unfortunate ending for Lopez, given his historical outing. He became just the 15th pitcher in MLB history with seven-plus strikeouts and zero walks in his postseason debut.

The Offensive Difference

Between both starters and bullpens, there was effective pitching in Houston. Neither the Marlins (0-for-4) or the Braves (0-for-3) were able to capitalize with runners in scoring position.  It wasn’t a lively offensive showing, with just seven combined hits. It was a matter of finding opportunities, and for Atlanta, they managed to find the only two of the game. The first came in the second inning, and it came off the hot bat of Dansby Swanson. The Vanderbilt product continued his hot streak with his second home run in as many games. The home run by Swanson gave Atlanta a one-run lead.

Meanwhile, Miami’s offense struck just one hit and wasn’t able to mount much of an offensive attack. The second offensive opportunity for Atlanta came in the fourth inning with yet another hot Atlanta bat. Off of a Lopez changeup that had been effective up to that point, Travis d’Arnaud produced his second home run in as many days. d’Arnaud is now 4-6 with five RBI through two NLDS games.

In the end, it was an offensive attack by Atlanta that didn’t include two of their top stars in Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna. The pair went a combined 0-8 in the game with four strikeouts. Even with that said, they still came through with the win.

For the Marlins, their best chance at touching up the scoreboard came in the top half of the sixth. A Jon Berti single, a Garrett Cooper walk, and a Brian Anderson hit by pitch loaded the bases with two outs. Then a favorable match-up came about that posted Matt Joyce, a .263 batter against right-handed pitching, against Darren O’Day. Thanks to solid pitching, O’Day escaped the bases-loaded jam, a threat that would not face the Braves pitching staff again throughout the contest.

Going Forward

With the win for Atlanta, the series is now on the brink of conclusion for Miami. The threat of Miami’s first postseason series loss is real, and it’s quite a task facing the Marlins. When the two teams take the stage in Houston again, the Braves will have history favoring them. Teams with a 2-0 lead in a best-of-five postseason series win 87.9 percent of the time, winning 73 of the 83 series. With their season on the line, Miami will put rookie sensation Sixto Sanchez (3.46 ERA) on the mound to face Kyle Wright (5.21 ERA). Game three will begin at 2:08 p.m. Eastern and will be televised on FS1.

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